Every aspect of democracy has been designed; therefore, it can be designed differently.

This is, of course, not just true for ballots and posters, but for all processes in Western representative democracy. And as with ballots and posters, we have to ask ourselves: do these processes really reflect our society today? Are they accessible and accommodating not just to a few, but to everyone, at least to a large extent? The world has changed dramatically, but the essential architecture of contemporary Western democracies has remained largely untouched for around three centuries. What does that mean for inclusivity, diversity and participation as we understand them today?

Design & Democracy is a research platform initiated by Amelie Klein and Vera Sacchetti in 2019, in collaboration with Claudia Chwalisz from DemocracyNext. We investigate the myriad ways in which design, culture and democratic practices intersect and overlap, and explore possible new democratic paradigms through a design lens. Our partners include DemocracyNext, MA Curating Contemporary Design at Kingston University, Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD, Museum of Decorative Arts and Design), and the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn, amongst others.

If these themes interest you and you would like to get in touch, write to us at hello@designanddemocracy.org.

Amelie Klein

Amelie Klein is an independent design curator, writer and critic. Currently, together with Vera Sacchetti, she is working on an exhibition about the overlaps of design and democracy scheduled to open in May 2024. Before that, she curated an exhibition at the Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe in Hamburg, Germany, co-curated the first iteration of the Design Campus School at the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Dresden / Pillnitz and, until July 2019, worked as a permanent curator at the Vitra Design Museum, in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Klein was nominated twice for the German art magazine’s Curator Prize, an award granted for the best exhibition in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. She completed an MFA in Design Criticism at New York’s School of Visual Arts as well as an MBA at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria. For more than ten years, Klein worked as an editor and journalist publishing internationally.

Vera Sacchetti

Vera Sacchetti (Lisbon, 1983) is a Basel-based design critic and curator. She specializes in contemporary design and architecture and serves in a variety of curatorial, research and editorial roles. Recently, she co-founded Fazer, a new design magazine in Portugal; co-initiated the Design & Democracy platform (2020–), which maps the intersections and overlaps between design and democratic systems and practices; and served as program coordinator of the multidisciplinary research initiative Driving the Human: Seven Prototypes for Eco-social Renewal (2020-2023), which supports transdisciplinary research on sustainable futures. Sacchetti teaches at HEAD Geneva and Design Academy Eindhoven, and in 2020 joined the Federal Design Commission of Switzerland.